Kiwan, 2008, is written from the perspective of a member of New Labour’s “Life in the UK” Advisory Group, set up in 2002. It was designed to propose courses of instruction and related assessments on “citizenship” and English for immigrants, see Home Office 2003 for its report. Kiwan’s research involves interviewing those involved in formulating the concept of citizenship in the UK in the current century. She found a triple stranded concept, “the moral, the legal, and the participatory”.
Introduction of a 4th strand, which might be summarized as “identity and diversity” was introduced into the English Key Stage 3 and 4 national curriculum in 2007, (p63-4). [Get update on this, has curriculum since 2008 been changed?]
Kiwan stresses her belief (p65) that the “citizenship test” is under the heavy influence of citizenship education in English schools [research “citizenship” in CfE], and that it “reflects contemporary thinking in the domain of education with regard to optimal approaches to teaching, learning and assessment”. The assessment itself affects our conceptualization of the acquisition of citizenship.
Kiwan (p65) sees the language component of the test as a 1st step in communication with one’s fellow citizens, not as an obstacle, and again stresses the “educative purposes” of the “naturalization requirements”.
The handbook for immigrants “Journey to Citizenship” is pointed out (p66) as illustrating the portrayal of “citizenship as a continual process” where acquisition of citizen status is a starting not an end point. This seems questionable on semantic grounds: would not the handbook have been better, then, called “Journey from Citizenship”?
Interesting that “an experienced ESOL teacher” was employed to check the handbook’s level, (p66). The layout and textual features described on p67 make it sound like an ESOL commercial text. The citizenship text is based on the handbook’s chapters 2-6, [research current situation]. For the test, the Advisory Board on test-item writers with extensive ESOL teaching and assessment experience and Integration (ABNI), of which the author was [is?] Secretary, employed “test-item writers with extensive ESOL teaching and assessment experience”.
P68 gives details of the test design process. Over several days, item writers devised questions and answers, which were then “scrutinized and revised if necessary by the ABNI citizenship test subgroup”, but we are not told who the subgroup personnel are. There is no mention of trialing or calibration.
Reference is then made to the “requirement” that those whose level is below Entry Level 3 attend classes, which contrast with the test in that they are learner-centred, (which to an ESOL teacher is an odd way of framing it: all ESOL classes should be learner-centred; though it does suggest that the classes are what one would expect in an ESOL classroom: that is, they are not a lock-step lecture). It is also noted that The New and the Old report (Home Office, 2003) suggested assessment by means of portfolio. It is not surprising to those of us who deal with ESOL learners and the resource implications of assessment that this suggestion was ignored.
Further ESOL materials in relation to the test have since been produced in collaboration with ESOL teachers. [research post 2008 situation on materials]. It might be useful to examine the criterion validity of the test in light of the teaching materials.
Home Office. (2003). The New and the Old. (Report of the Life in the United Kingdom Advisory Group). London: Home Office.
Kiwan, D (2008). A Journey to Citizenship in the United Kingdom. International Journal on Multicultural Societies, 10 (1), 60-76.